Back to Article Index
Does my Cat Need to be Groomed?
As every cat owner knows, most felines are meticulous in their grooming. They clean their faces after meals, file their nails on the scratching post, and "bathe" themselves with their tongues regularly.
However, even the most fastidious feline can use a bit of help now and then to look and feel their best, says Val Penstone, Director of Grooming for Best Friends. Long-haired breeds need regular deep combing, or they will end up with areas of thick matted coat. Even short-haired kitties benefit from regular brushing and an occasional shampoo to keep them cleaner, and cut down on loose hair about the home. And regular grooming also enables you to monitor your cat for health problems.
Make it a routine
The best way to approach grooming any pet, says Penstone, is to make it a routine – something that you do regularly. Following are her suggestions for helping your feline friends look and feel their very best.
- Brush and comb your cat regularly. Long-haired cats should be brushed daily; for short-haired cats, once or twice each week may be enough. A cat that is brushed regularly will shed less, since more of those loose hair will come off in the brush, and will have fewer problems with hairballs. Long-hairs that are brushed daily will also have fewer matts. Cats require the most brushing in the spring, when they shed their winter coats.
It’s important to use the proper tools. Choose good quality steel combs with tapered pins or ‘teeth’. Penstone suggests using a medium/ coarse for body work and a fine tooth for heads and faces. A professional groomer can advise you on the right choices for your cat.
- Clip your cat’s nails periodically. If you have an indoor cat, you may need to clip his nails when they get too long. (Outdoor cats need their nails for defense, climbing and balance.) Use only a professional cat nail clippers and only clip to the hook of the nail. Be sure to stay below the "quick" or your cat will bleed. It’s a good idea to have styptic powder handy just in case. Since you won’t be able to clip kitty’s nails as quickly and easily as a professional, don’t try to do it all at once. Instead clip a few nails each day until the job is done.
- Brush kitty’s teeth at least once a week. This is something your cat cannot do for herself. Just as in humans, the build-up of plaque in your cat’s mouth can lead to gum disease and other dental problems. Use only a special pet toothbrush and toothpaste. If your adult cat’s teeth have never been cleaned, you may want to start with a professional cleaning by your vet.
- Bathe your cat when needed. As a rule, cats don’t need frequent baths. When someone in the house suffers from pet allergies, regular shampooing and the application of a special lotion will allow the allergy sufferer to live more comfortably with a cat. And, if kitty’s coat is dull and dry, shampooing and conditioning can help. Use only products specially labeled for cats. Using human shampoos and conditioners is not recommended. Some cats are very sensitive to citrus-based products. Medicated products should be only used if prescribed by a veterinarian. (Some flea and tick shampoos and dips are specifically labeled NOT for use on cats). A professional groomer can recommend the best products for your cat.
It takes a little patience to put your cat at ease with a regular grooming routine, and you may want a professional groomer to help with bigger tasks like bathing. But, says Penstone, the touching and attention your cat receives during brushing and other grooming sessions will strengthen the bond between you and your pet.